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Date: Fri, 1 Apr 2005 15:09:07 +0100
Subject: SchNEWS 491, All Fools Day, 2005

Scottish Executive ignores findings of M74 Public Enquiry

Going Overground

Ah the beauty of British law...if someone proposes a major public works project which might affect the environment and people's quality of life, the project can be examined by a "Public Inquiry". A combination of the judiciary and experts are drafted in to carefully weigh up all the evidence and ascertain whether the project is necessary and really does bring public benefits...if they support the enterprise all well and good - you can use it to weaken any opposition to the scheme - and if they don't...well you can always just ignore their findings.

Consider, for example, the largest urban road building scheme in the country: the M74 extension. The Scottish Executive's plan to build 6 miles of elevated motorway right across Glasgow at a cost of 250m was challenged by a range of groups (now formulated into JAM74 - Joint Action against the M74) aware that new roads rarely reduce congestion, have negative environmental effects and bring few benefits for locals. In fact, the main beneficiaries are usually the building contractors, whose eyes light up like fruit machines at the prospect of so much easy cash, and of course their mates the local government officials, who certainly don't need bribing to hand out the contracts and almost never have any financial interests in the building firms themselves.

In light of the growing opposition, the matter was referred to Public Inquiry in 2003. Despite seeming less than independent - all personnel were selected by the McGovernment - they reported their findings in March 2004 and overwhelmingly came out against the scheme. Now, in March 2005, the Scottish Executive has announced their intention to press on and build the unwanted road for, er...500m. A triumph for democracy and a bargain to boot! That's not to say this is the final bill - the Glasgow Herald recently reported it may cost up to 1 billion...Millennium Dome anyone?

Dave Spaven of TRANSform Scotland (a campaign for sustainable transport, part of the JAM74 coalition) said, "The Executive's decision to press ahead...despite the specific recommendation of the Inquiry a scandal." Will Jess, Chair of JAM74 adds, "The Executive and the City Council have condemned Glaswegians to a legacy of air pollution and chromium contamination. JAM74 is not going away, hundreds of objectors to this road have signed our 'beat the bulldozer' pledges and we will challenge this decision in the courts." If that doesn't work, it seems to SchNEWS that (direct) actions will have to speak louder than (official) words...

Next JAM74 meeting is 5 April, 7:30pm
Govanhill Community Centre, Daisy St, Glasgow

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